Cover photo for John D "JD" Whitaker, III's Obituary
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1972 John 2023

John D "JD" Whitaker, III

November 16, 1972 — July 27, 2023

John D "JD" Whitaker, III, late of Fleming Island, Florida passed away on July 27, 2023, after a courageous battle with cancer, surrounded by his wife and children. 

Born in Florence, South Carolina on November 16, 1972, John grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and graduated from Northern Nash High School in 1991. He began his railroad career in 1997 after meeting his wife, Melissa, and was a well-respected figure in the railroad industry.  His love for people and their respect for him translated into his being elected as the Local Chairman of UTU Local 1106 in Rocky Mount, NC. In 2006, he was elected Vice General Chairman for the UTU GO-851 and elected General Chairman in 2011. In 2019 he was elected, by acclimation, to Vice President of the largest railroad union, SMART-Transportation Division (formerly UTU), where he fervently continued his passion and purpose to afford all railroad workers fair wages, working conditions and quality of life.  He was fortunate to be surrounded by a vast brother and sisterhood who supported and encouraged him, believed in and respected him, and selflessly devoted his career to putting others first and making their lives better.  

John was born a leader, and this was evident in his life as a Boy Scout, earning his Eagle Rank by the age of 13 and receiving invitations by other Scout troops to lead in various capacities, including to hike at Philmont Ranch and to sail at Sea Base, two nationally renowned Scout Camps.  He was also a recipient of 3 Silver Palms, an honor bestowed to very few, but one he was very proud of.  His passion for scouting continued as his own sons, Chase and Russell became scout age, reviving his childhood Cub Scout Pack in Rocky Mount, NC (Pack 628). He picked up where he left off after moving to Fleming Island, FL in 2006 serving as a leader in Cub Scout Pack 802 where his son Nicholas then joined scouts.  His love of service then culminated in taking on the role of Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 892 and Eagle Scout Advisor, where he helped his own sons, and many other young men achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.  With over 10 years of leadership in Scouts, John was given the honor of “Mentor” by many of his scouts and continues to have an impact on those he led.

His love of the outdoors extended into many passions. Whether fishing in the open sea, hunting the woods of South Carolina, gardening in his backyard, or hiking in the mountains, John found his deepest peace when he was one with nature. His passion for life was woven into every facet of his being, whether it was time with his wife and boys, time with his friends and coworkers, or even a stranger.  John did not differentiate himself from anyone, and at the heart of it all, he will always just be a good ol’ boy from North Carolina who always thought he had more than he deserved.

Despite having too many memories to list, he cherished the time spent with his beloved wife and their children and will be remembered for the love and dedication he had to being a husband and a father.  John was, by its very definition, selfless. He provided for his family in many ways, but mostly with opportunities to grow and learn, to be exposed to any and everything that he could afford them, to be a mentor, a leader, and a friend.  He was beyond proud of all his boys and knew without a doubt that they were growing into the men that he has always been preparing them to be. 

John is survived by his sons Chase, Russell and Nicholas; his wife Melissa; his father, John “Red” and Shannon Whitaker; his mother Linda Whitaker; his brother Matthew Whitaker; his sisters Jacquelyn Whitaker and Donna Lamb; and his nieces and nephews Dylan, Grace, Willow, Wyatt, Jayden, Elizabeth, Wren and Sadie. 

A Celebration of Life will be held in honor of John at Plantation Oaks Farms (45460 Hodges Rd, Callahan, FL 32011) on Friday, August 18, 2023 at 3:00pm.  

An additional service will be held at the Englewood Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall (100 S Englewood Dr., Rocky Mount, NC 27804) on August 26, 2023 at 3:00pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to a fund in John’s name to help provide opportunities to other Scouts who, most importantly, display a desire to live their life by the very tenets of the Scout Law.

The family would love for you to send a personal memory/photo(s) with John, via email ([email protected]) for use in the Celebration of Life service.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, August 18, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Service

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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